Friday, July 18, 2014

Bright and Cheerful Sampler Quilt

I told you I would be back this week to start sharing some of the sewing/quilting projects I have been working on...and today I am excited to share a very fun sampler quilt project I recently completed for AccuQuilt. This fun sampler block quilt is made entirely with one cutting die...the GO! Value Die. The GO! Value Die includes two 2 1/2"W x 2 1/2"W triangles, one 2 1/2"W x 2 1/2"W square, and one 4 1/2"W x 4 1/2"H square, which together, can create a wide variety of blocks and fact, you would be surprised how many projects you can make with just this one die. The GO! Value Die actually comes in the GO! Fabric Cutter Starter Set, along with the GO! Fabric Cutter, a 6" x 12" cutting mat, a die pick, and a 20-page pattern booklet which includes 12 block patterns and a sampler quilt pattern (the quilt I am sharing with you today).

So, let's talk about the sampler quilt - it is 12 different blocks, each measuring 8" x 8"...and with the borders the quilt measures 48" x 48". The entire quilt top is pieced with shapes from the GO! Value Die (yep, that's it, just one single cutting die)...and the binding was cut using the GO! Strip Cutter-2 1/2". These two dies are compatible with the GO! and the GO! Baby Fabric Cutter (and with the Studio Fabric Cutter, if you use the GO! Die Adapters).

This quilt was REALLY fun to make - and is a good starter quilt. You can do one block each day, each week, or even each month...and before you know it you will have the top complete. It is also a great practice quilt if you want to work on your "point skills"...and with the precise cutting, you will be surprised how well your points match up! ...and, of course, you could use your favorite colors and fabrics to make it extra special!

If you are interested in the AccuQuilt booklet that contains all twelve block patterns (with alternate uses) and the GO! Die Sampler Quilt, you can find it as part of the GO! Fabric Cutter Starter Set. You can hear all about the this Starter Set and the sampler quilt by watching this video...and yes, the quilt hanging in the background is the one I made (it's famous!)...

I will be back soon with more of my recent projects...until then, happy creating!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

An Iowa Summer...

Hello friends - I sure have missed you (and from the photo on the right, my dogs aren't getting enough attention either...this is what is waiting for me when I come down the stairs from my studio). It has been a couple hectic weeks...and although I have a TON of creative things to share with you, it has been hard to make the time to sit down and blog. Troubleshooting with the new website has been a huge time investment...and now, I am waiting for the latest cart software update, hoping that will fix some of the connection issues that some of you are experiencing. I have around forty handmade items to add, but I was hoping the site would be working properly for everyone before I take the time to list everything. Thank you for your patience while I sort everything out - and for those of you who have been able to view and explore the new website, thank you for your very kind compliments and orders. I have also been keeping busy with some special design projects and commissioned sewing/quilting work - unfortunately, needlework just doesn't pay the bills these days, so I have been forced to sit it on the back burner and focus on projects that can supplement my has been quite the balancing act, but when you are passionate about your career, you find a way to keep your dream alive. I am also getting in my training walks for the Komen 3-Day in November...and yes, I am still stitching on the model for my 2014 fundraising is about 75-80% finished, so you will see it soon - I really wanted to have it completed by now, but life has had other plans....

So I thought I would share a few photos I have taken over the last several weeks - a little "catch-up"...and then later this week, I will share some of my latest sewing/quilting creations with you (I have a bunch!)....

Raccoon River Park - this is where I do a lot of walking with Schatzi - it is
3 miles to walk around the lake...

On the Nature Walk at Raccoon River Park

Travis giving Schatzi a swimming lesson at Raccoon River Park...

I took a little road trip with my friend Lorrie to Pella, Iowa, where we visited
the quilt shop and the bakery.

Fishing with friends on the 4th of July...yep, that is my fishing pole (and yes, I
have a fishing pole).

Here is one of the 8 fish I caught - obviously, I threw them all back...

Friends around the fire pit on the 4th of July...(their house overlooks the pond we
were fishing on)...

Toasting marshmallows for s'mores....

The first s'more I have made/had since I was a kid...I made my husband hold it
for a photo...and yes, it was delicious...

Iowa sunset on Independence Day

A Tiger Swallowtail butterfly I spotted on an early morning training walk...

Another quiet, early morning on the trail with Schatzi - this was taken on one of
the bridges - it is my favorite bench in a small clearing...we have a lovely trail system
close to our home...

A current photo of Miss E Schatzi Nace Wir Vertrauen CGC - she is now 82 pounds.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Love Today

Do you think someone was trying to tell me something this morning?? - Schatzi and I came upon this sidewalk chalk art on our early morning walk...and I just had to snap an Instagram photo. So, while my days are extremely challenging right now, I am going to try to "love today!!"...

Before I get into something fun and creative, I want to give you just a wee bit of a website update. Some of you are still having intermittent speed and connection issues when trying to visit - and I am still working with my web host and cart software provider to fix these issues. We are working on a couple different things, hoping one of them will solve the problem. I would like to thank everyone for being patient - I understand your frustration...and believe me, I am BEYOND frustrated, as well. I would also like to thank those of you who have been able to access the website for your kind messages and your orders...your supportive notes have kept me sane and make the nastygrams I have received somewhat less hurtful - I am truly thankful for you. I am doing my best to get the problem solved and can only hope things will be back to normal soon. Fingers crossed...

On to something happy and cross stitch related...

The most wonderful package arrived on my doorstep from the UK yesterday, and it could not have come on a better truly lifted my spirits! Inside this package was a lovely gift bag with two beautifully wrapped presents. I opened the smallest present first, which was a GORGEOUS yard of some of the most spectacular ribbon I have even seen and an exquisite handmade button - both from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London - I just can't wait to find the perfect project to use these unique embellishments! If that wasn't enough, in the larger package was a bright and cheerful cross stitched friendship pillow and matching tag...aren't they special?! This handmade gift truly touched my heart and brought an immediately smile to my face after a day filled with frustration and negativity - it honestly made me speechless. Thank you so much Dora - I will treasures these gifts - and I treasure our faraway friendship - you make me happy!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Website Hiccups...

I am aware that some of you are experiencing difficulty and frustration with the new website - while some of you are able to visit and explore easily, others cannot get the site to load or receive an error message. Please know I am addressing the intermittent speed and connection issues and I'm working with my web host and software provider on a solution. Thank you so very much for your patience, I hope to have everything running smoothly as soon as possible. Computers are a marvelous thing most of the time; however, I have quickly learned they can also cause migraine headaches - and truth be told, this entire website project is making me feel like an epic failure. Please bear with me while I work out this latest "challenge" and I hope to be back soon, letting you know all is well...cross your fingers and/or say a little prayer for me - I could use some good vibes and a little positivity today!

....and just so this post has a happy, creative twist, here is a new update on my 2014 Komen "pink" design...and yes, I am still trying to come up with the perfect title...

Monday, June 30, 2014

Stitch Starter Ruler & Sleeves

Hello friends! It has been another busy week....and today will be filled with adding new handmade items to my freshly updated website. Over the last few days, I managed to turn these piles:

Into these finished piles of Stitch Starter Ruler Sleeves:

These pocket sleeves measure 3.5" x 3.5" and hold my BRD 3" Stitch Starter Ruler perfectly - they are fully lined with no raw seams...and they use fusible fleece to give them a bit of padding and stability. I will be listing all 36 new Stitch Starter Ruler Sleeves (four each of nine different fabrics) in the Exclusives/One-of-a-Kind Handmade section on my website...and each ruler pocket sleeve purchase includes a Stitch Starter Ruler.

For those of you unfamiliar with my BRD Stitch Starter Ruler:
  • It is 2 mil acrylic plastic, making it durable.
  • It has marking lines for 1", 2", and 3" seam allowances, so you only need one tool.
  • It is clear, making it easy to see your fabric placement.
  • It has 1/4" and 1/2" markings on three sides.
  • It has complete 3" ruler markings down the left side - these can be used for: finishing work measurements, measuring between stitched designs, and counting threads to figure fabric count.
  • Visit this PDF link for more information: Directions for using the Stitch Starter Ruler
A Stitch Starter Ruler is also included in the following Blue Ribbon Designs with charting and instructions to make your own cross stitch sleeves: BRD-100 "Holiday Helpings" and BRD-097 "Blessed Beyond Measure" - these two design charts can be purchased on my website or at your favorite needlework shop.

I am off to take photos of each Stitch Starter Ruler Sleeve (it's terribly gloomy and raining, so I am going to have to work on the lighting)...then I will start posting them on the website (along with a few other new items)'s going to be a busy day!

Monday, June 23, 2014

You Never Stop Growing...

Several months ago, my Blue Ribbon Designs website celebrated ten years in existence...seriously, ten years...and in the needlework industry, that is really saying something. Things sure have changed during the past ten years - it has been a decade filled with rewards, stitching friendships, personal accomplishments, and new creative endeavors...along with challenges, hiccups, and downfalls. Recently, we have all watched the economy and copyright infringements truly damage the needlework community...and although needlework has been my livelihood and full time job for over ten years, in the last twelve months, I have found it almost impossible to make ends meet - I have even been seriously contemplating going back to the corporate world. I have revamped my business plan a million times - tried different avenues - looked at more cost-effective solutions - and have even studied new ways to deliver my products. I'm just not ready to say goodbye to a business that has brought me so much joy and fulfillment...and allowed me to be creative on a daily basis for over ten years. So, with changing and challenging times, it's time to make some adjustments. The first is a newly updated website at with improved features and a shopping cart....yep, you will be able to order my designs, along with my handmade items directly from my website.

First, you must know: I have always and will always support needlework shops...and although consumers will now be able to purchase Blue Ribbon Designs charts/patterns from me directly, they will still need to purchase all the needed supplies and materials from the needlework shop/supplier of their choice. I will still be doing business with needlework shops and distributors - and your favorite shops will still carry and be able to order Blue Ribbon Designs. With well over 100 designs in the BRD catalog, it is impossible for shops and distributors to have stock of each and every design - this new shopping option just gives needleworkers a chance to purchase those designs that their local shop doesn't stock or want to order. It will also help my international fans obtain my designs with less hassle.

Another perk of the updated website - all my handmade items that have been found in my Etsy shop will now be listed along with my charts - so you can do all your Blue Ribbon Designs shopping in one place. I will also be adding some original sewing and quilting patterns too...

This updated website has definitely been a learning experience - with my limited budget, I was unable to pay someone thousands of dollars to build the site, so I have been building it on my own for several months. It has been a very time consuming project...and I have spent hours upon hours adding products and doing testing. I now have an SSL certificate in place, insuring your orders and purchasing information are safe and secure (you will see "https" and a lock in your browser address line). There have been a few glitches along with way - mostly cosmetic and making the website have my personality...and I am sure now that the site is live, other small errors will be found (it is just not feasible for me to test every device and every browser in every scenario).

The site is now also "mobile" - so those of you wanting to use your smartphone will be able to place secure orders through the mobile site. I will tell you, if you choose the option "view full desktop site" from your mobile device, it will not be as pretty, but it will still be functional. The entire site is best viewed from a desktop, laptop, or tablet with the most current browsers and operating systems. Another note - if you have visited my website recently, you may have to F5 refresh to see the new website.

Payment can be made with all major credit cards and PayPal...and there is a "Contact Us" page for those that need to request other arrangements - I will do my very best to accommodate you. I ship internationally...and you have options for shipping (USPS First Class, USPS Parcel, USPS Priority Mail, or UPS)...and as many of you know, I ship promptly.

I hope you find the newly updated website easy to maneuver...and I hope you like the updated features. If you notice anything strange, any misspellings, or something just doesn't look right or add up properly, please feel free to send me a (kind) message...I would love to hear your feedback and would appreciate constructive criticism or corrections (written in a nice manner). I should also mention - I am working on coding to have several of the header and footer menu items open in a new window (items such as News, Blog, and Facebook) - this will be more convenient and keep you from having to hit your "back", rest assured, I am still working on a few adjustments/improvements to make viewing even better! It's a work in progress...

I am extremely passionate about the needlework industry and I would love to continue to bring you the original designs you have come to know and with all that being said, it is back to work (finally) on some new designs and handmade items - I am ready to get back into the swing of things. Thank you all for your love, support, and patience while I took on this HUGE project.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Video Class DVD...and a Giveaway!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Georgia H. - she is the recipient of the DVD giveaway - I have already e-mailed Georgia with the details. Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment and enter...and thank you to the Rafflecopter widget for organizing the entries and randomly choosing a winner. If you didn't win this time, please don't be discouraged - there will be more giveaway opportunities in the future...

In mid-May, I announced my new online video class "Learn Counted Cross Stitch" was live and ready for viewing...well, today I have more exciting news the DVD is now available. That's right, my special video project with Annie's is now available both as an online video class and on DVD....and today I have a copy of the DVD to give away (keep reading for details)!!

This is definitely not your average "shot in a basement" video - this class was professionally filmed in Annie's studio with top notch production, high quality cameras, and a full set. There are 13 segments in the video and I start with the very basics; we start out discussing materials, supplies, and tools - then we talk about how to read a Cross Stitch chart, how to prepare your supplies, and how to take your first stitches. We cover how to work Cross Stitches (two different methods), Back Stitches, Partial Cross Stitches, and French Knots....and each technique segment has an exclusive Blue Ribbon Designs I talk about finishing touches and finishing ideas. This video class is perfect for a beginner, as well as a seasoned needleworker that wants to brush up on their skills and knowledge. The video length is one hour and 53 minutes and the DVD video class (just like the online class) includes five exclusive printable class projects, instructions, materials lists, and diagrams (DVDs are compatible with North American DVD players, and PC and Macintosh computer systems).

Photo collage featuring the five exclusive projects....

You can see a Class Overview and the Introduction video for free by visiting: and clicking on the links in the "Lesson Description" box (lower right corner).

You can find the online video class here:

...and the DVD can be found at specialty needlework shops and here:

Now the FUN begins! I have one video class DVD to giveaway to a lucky are the important details:
Followers (current and new) are eligible - after you tell me how you follow, you will have three more entry opportunities (entries will be verified). One winner will be chosen randomly and will receive a copy of the DVD "Learn Counted Cross Stitch". International entries are welcome. You must use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter - no e-mail entries will be accepted. The giveaway is open until 11:59 PM CST Sunday, June 22, 2014 and the recipient will be announced on Monday, June 23, 2014. No prize substitutions. Good luck...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Catching My Breath...

Yes, I am still alive and breathing...and yes, I am okay. I apologize for taking so long between posts, but it has been a little hectic here to say the least. Thank you to everyone who sent me a message to check on me - I know it has been longer than usual since my last just got in the way...but we'll catch-up quickly in this post, and then things should start to get back to normal.

Where to start...well, my husband was just out of town for a week plus on a fishing trip with his buddies in Canada, so that left me trying to balance the household, dogs, yard work, and my business, all on my own...I pretty much was on auto-pilot for the entire time he was gone - trying to cram everything I needed to do into each day. Here some photos taken on his trip to Gold Arrow Camp in Perrault Falls, Ontario, Canada...

Several of you have asked about my walking - yep, I have been walking/training daily. Schatzi and I walk/run 4-5 miles every morning, rain or shine...Simba gets two walks a day...and Schatzi gets a couple trips to the park during the day and usually a good walk in the yes, I manage to get in an average of eight plus miles a day. Schatzi is a good training partner...and I must mention she got her first title last night - she tested for her AKC CGC (Canine Good Citizen) and passed with flying colors!

Schatzi getting her AKC paperwork after she passed her CGC test...

Next up - the updated Blue Ribbon Designs website...yes, I have it all built...and yes, my SSL Certificate is now in place...and yes, it will be live VERY soon. I am doing some last minute testing and I am hoping to have that done today. A little hint (and reason why it has taken so long) - the updated site has a shopping cart and you will be able to shop BRD charts and BRD Etsy items all in one place....but a little note: I still support needlework shops 100% - my shop will only sell  my charts and handmade items - you will still need to visit your favorite needlework retailer to buy your supplies....more on all of this in the very near future...and the delayed BRD newsletter will be sent as soon as the new website is up and running.

...and yes, I am still sewing and quilting...I just finished up four large projects for AccuQuilt (sorry can't share them just yet)...and I am in the midst of putting together a pile of stitching wallets (12) and stitch starter ruler sleeves (36)...

Let's finish up on a happy note! In March, I entered the National Craft Month giveaway on the Therm O Web blog (a favorite blog of mine - they always have creative ideas and tutorials!)...they were giving away an Oliso TG-1100 Iron. We all know I love my Oliso irons and I am on my second one...well, to my complete surprise I won the giveaway (with over 1,000 entries)! However, as of last week, I had not received my prize...and after two months, I had completely given up hope. Well, thanks to Thermo O Web and Oliso, my new iron arrived this week - and to add to my excitement, it was a TG1600, just like the one I already own and LOVE. I am so excited - I now have a wonderful iron at my cutting table ironing board and an iron at my sewing machine ironing board - so convenient - no more shuffling my one iron back and forth from room to room!

Well, that's all the news for now...I must get Simba to the groomer - he's due there in less than an hour...I will be stitching on my 2014 Komen design model while I wait for him to get a bath and haircut. I'll be back soon with details on my new updated website...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saturday Samplings....

Wow - who hijacked my week?? - how can it possibly be Saturday already?? It seems like I blinked and my entire week was gone. It has been a creative and productive few days and I have several fun things to share...

I started my week finishing up several large sewing/quilting commission jobs (which I can't share, just yet)...but I did manage to get in some late night stitching time. I have been working on my 2014 "pink" design every evening - this special fundraising design will only be available to those who make a donation to my 3-day 60-mile walk in Dallas this year...and just like "Red Rosies and Pink Posies" from last year, ALL proceeds will benefit the Komen 3-Day. It is an autumn design and I am still working on a title for it...more details will be coming soon - but for now here is a second sneak peek (you can see the first peek here)...

I also made time to start doing the appliqué and/or quilting on more covers for my stitching wallets - these will be headed to my Etsy shop, once complete. Yep, I still plan to put an assortment of my stitching wallets up for sale - it is just having/making the time to get them put together. There will be several different cover styles and I am working with a variety of fabrics. I enjoy playing with the hexagon shapes and using my machine to appliqué them in place, but they are quite labor intensive - I just need more hours in each day to accomplish everything I want to do...but I will get these finished up and post here when they are ready to go into the shop.

...and if you read my AccuQuilt Block Party Blog Hop post on Monday, then you know I had put together some pincushion tops using leftover shapes from my deck pillows...another wonderful project I made using the new AccuQuilt GO! Simple Shapes die by Edyta Sitar. I actually finished up the pincushions this week, and was quite pleased. Machine appliqué is one of my favorite ways to spend my day - it makes my heart happy - so these were a joy to work on - in fact, I may have to put together a few more! I'm not sure what I am going to do with these three yet - they may become gifts...or they may end up in my Etsy shop...I'm still deciding.

I have been truly inspired by all the posts in the Block Party Blog Hop - this entire group is amazingly talented and if you haven't had a chance to check out the other posts, take a minute or two to peruse the following links (you won't be disappointed!)...and there is still a week left in the hop, so more wonderful posts are still to come...

May 19th – Samplings from a Blue Ribbon Girl  (that's me!)
May 20th – Beaquilter
May 21st – Freemotion by the River
May 22nd – May Chappell
May 23rd – Sew Incredibly Crazy
May 24th – Laundry Basket Quilts
May 26th – Inventive Denim
May 27th – Sew Fresh Quilts
May 28th – Quilt in a Day
May 29th – Nancy Mahoney Designs
May 30th – Ray’s Sew Crafty

Here are a few close-up shops of my bright and cheerful pincushions....

Time to get back in the studio...I want to get more sewing/quilting done on my stitching wallets while the house is quiet...I also want to get more work done on my new website...and I have to get in a training walk...and of course, I have stitching to do! Enjoy your weekend...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Block Party Blog Hop - Artful Appliqué

Welcome friends and AccuQuilt Block Party Blog Hop visitors - I am so glad you have stopped by for a visit!

If this is your fist time visiting my blog, let me introduce name is Belinda and I am a counted thread needlework designer by trade (Blue Ribbon Designs). I picked up my first needle at the young age of six and have been designing professionally in the Cross Stitch industry for over 10 years. I am completely obsessed with just about anything created with a needle and thread - and when I am not working on my original cross stitch designs, I find sheer enjoyment sewing and quilting. I love to create and I am pretty much fearless when it comes to most needlecrafts - I jump into projects full steam and expect the best results. I bought my first AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutter years ago after seeing an ad in a magazine (this was well before the GO! Baby)...I was immediately intrigued and spent quite a bit of time on the AccuQuilt website before jumping in and purchasing one, along with my first dies - well, it didn't take long, and I was completely hooked. In 2011, I bought a Studio Fabric Cutter to help save me time when preparing class kits for my needlework designs. So, yes, I am an AccuQuilt fan, proudly owning all three fabric cutters and a wide assortment of cutting dies...and yep, I probably use one of them almost every single day. My blog follows my creative journey - including needlework, sewing, quilting, and machine embroidery...pretty much anything that inspires me...I hope you enjoy your stay and visit often!

Now that you know a bit more about me, let's get to the fun stuff...
This is the first stop on the AccuQuilt Block Party Blog Hop...and I couldn't be more excited...I had so much fun playing with one of the new Block Party dies! AccuQuilt released 11 exciting new GO! cutting dies last week...and I am here to tell you all about  GO! Simple Shapes by Edyta Sitar (Laundry Basket Quilts). I knew immediately when I saw the packaging that I was going to fall in love with this is so very "me" I am a HUGE fan of Edyta's work. I really enjoy machine appliqué and I couldn't wait to get started on a new project. I decided I wanted to work on some new pillows for the benches on our deck...and I knew I wanted bright, cheerful colors. I gathered up 10 fat quarters and some fusible web and started contemplating how many shapes to cut. My little trick when I have a new cutting die - I cut a piece of paper first so I can play with shapes and get a handle on the sizing....I wouldn't cut tons of paper, as that can dull/damage your cutting blades, but a piece of paper or two is not going to harm it. After playing with the paper shapes, I decided I would just cut a wide variety of pieces in multiple colors and start designing. Since this is a 6" x 12" cutting die, I cut 10 - 6" x 12" pieces of paper backed fusible web and adhered one to each of my 10 fabric choices. On this die, the stems on leaves are on one side and the birdie and flower petals are on the other I simply folded my 6" x 12" paper backed fabric piece in half lengthwise before placing it on the appropriate side of the die - this gave me lots of mirrored shapes. Once I ran the fabric through the fabric cutter, I still had plenty of good areas left to cut additional pieces, as needed. The whole process was quick and easy and I had a pile of perfect shapes in less than an hour.

I decided on an 18" x 18" pillow and a 12" x 16" pillow. I knew I wanted to use a linen fabric for my base, but it can be unruly, so I backed it with fusible fleece to make it sturdy and keep it's shape while I did the machine appliqué. I then went to work laying out the pieces. For the 18" x 18" pillow, I had decided I was going to use the Studio Watercan (I had been waiting for a fun way to use this die) - so I placed the watercan first, then started adding the stems, leaves, flowers, and birds. Once everything was fused in place, I did the same with my 12" x 16" pillow top...I had so many pieces cut, I decided to make a couple pincushion tops, as well (shown upper right). I machine appliqued all the pieces in place using a blanket stitch...and backed both pillows with the cutest sunshine yellow polka dot fabric. The end result...these beautiful pillows that are exactly what I envisioned...

Are you feeling inspired?? I sure hope so!...and this is just stop one...there are 10 more stops on this AccuQuilt Block Party Blog Hop - all guaranteed to give you fresh new ideas - I personally follow all of the blogs on this impressive list, they will definitely not disappoint....

May 19th – Samplings from a Blue Ribbon Girl  (that's me!)
May 20th – Beaquilter
May 21st – Freemotion by the River
May 22nd – May Chappell
May 23rd – Sew Incredibly Crazy
May 24th – Laundry Basket Quilts
May 26th – Inventive Denim
May 27th – Sew Fresh Quilts
May 28th – Quilt in a Day
May 29th – Nancy Mahoney Designs
May 30th – Ray’s Sew Crafty

Be sure to explore my blog to see many more AccuQuilt projects and finishes...and please stop back soon...